Ocean Decade

Ocean Decade

While the data and information shared through the IODE ocean data and information centres of the IODE network are of great use to the ocean research community they are of equal or even more use to stakeholders further up the value chain from ocean observation/research to decision support and policy making. In order to achieve the mission of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and our ocean), open and equitable access to data, information and technology and innovation (Challenge 8) will be essential. IODE’s ocean data and information services provide services to a growing number of IOC and Decade activities:

Contributions of IODE to the UN decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

The United Nations has proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (see http://www.oceandecade.org) to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for sustainable development of the Ocean. As mandated by the UN General Assembly, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO will coordinate the Decade’s preparatory process, inviting the global ocean community to plan for the next ten years in ocean science and technology to deliver, together, the ocean we need for the future we want! The International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme of the IOC is the programme responsible for enhancing marine research, exploitation and development, by facilitating the exchange of oceanographic data and information between participating Member States, and by meeting the needs of users for data and information products. The IOC Assembly, at its 30th Session (June 2019) recognize that a major component of the ocean data and information system landscape is not linked to the IOC and the need to collaborate with those communities/systems in order to achieve improved accessibility, unrestricted use and interoperability of data and information. In addition the Assembly recalled that the IOC decided that IODE will work with existing stakeholders, linked and not linked to the IOC, to improve the accessibility and interoperability of existing data and information, and to contribute to the development of a global ocean data and information system, to be referred to as the IOC Ocean Data and Information System, leveraging established solutions where possible, including existing IODE systems and others. One of the key targets of the UN decade is “Promoting knowledge and information that are more equitably shared around the world (closing the knowledge gaps amongst countries, balancing the knowledge systems and taking into consideration the needs of coastal communities and more particularly the most vulnerable such as the Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries)“. [content to be added from Implementation Plan 2.3]


As from 2019 the IODE programme has started te development of its contribution to the UN decade. A first initiative was the development of the ODISCat: an online browsable and searchable catalogue of existing ocean related web-based sources/systems of data and information as well as products and services. It will also provide information on products and visualize the landscape (entities and their connections) of ocean data and information sources. (see: http://catalogue.odis.org).


The second initiative was the organization of the “Workshop on data sharing between UN agencies as a contribution to the UN decade of ocean science for sustainable development” (online meeting, 20 April 2020). Its purpose was to bring together member organisations of the UN-Oceans group (http://www.unoceans.org). The meeting was attended by FAO, IOC, ISA, UNDP, UNEP, UN ESCAP, UFCCC, UN Statistics, WCMC and WMO. The participants shared information on the ocean related data and information held or coordinated by their organization. To ADD 2021- 2022? To be checked [no text]


IODE hosts the Decade Coordination Office (DCO) for Ocean Data Sharing


The guiding framework towards setting a strategic ambition for Challenge 8 as developed by Working Group 8


Members of the Vision 2030 Challenge 8 Working Group

Decade Coordination Office (DCO) for Ocean Data Sharing

The Decade Coordination Office (DCO) for Ocean Data Sharing (ODS) was launched on the 1st of June 2023 by Jan-Bart Calewaert and Oonagh McMeel for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO in the context of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Hosted by IODE, the Decade Coordination Office for Ocean Data Sharing acts as sub-unit of the central Decade Coordination Unit to catalyse and coordinate Decade Actions falling under its scope, assist decade actors with data and information challenges and opportunities, promote cooperation amongst UN and Member State partners, monitor progress, communicate on achievements and mobilise resources.

On this page you will find more information on the DCO, its terms of reference and latest updates on its activities since its establishment.

What is a DCO?2024-03-04T06:17:50+01:00

Within the context of the UN decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development a “Decade Coordination Office” acts as sub-unit of the central Decade Coordination Unit. Catalysis and coordination of Decade Actions including of Calls for Decade Actions, organise and coordinate Decade review processes, promote cooperation amongst UN and Member State partners, communications, monitoring, and resource mobilisation. DCOs are typically established and hosted by UN agencies.


The core focus of the Decade Coordination Office (DCO) for Ocean Data Management will be on supporting the Ocean Decade Challenge 8 : “Through multi-stakeholder collaboration, develop a comprehensive digital representation of the ocean, including a dynamic ocean map, which provides free and open access for exploring, discovering, and visualizing past, current, and future ocean conditions in a manner relevant to diverse stakeholders.”The DCO will thus support the development of the capacity, functionality and interoperability of the management of and accessibility to ocean data, information and knowledge.

The DCO aims to manage the Data Sharing component of the digital ecosystem needed for the Ocean Decade to be successful. Thus it will also support, interact and overlap with the other components of the digital ecosystem and therefore enables challenges 7 and 9.

  • Challenge 9: “Ensure comprehensive capacity development and equitable access to data, information, knowledge and technology across all aspects of ocean science and for all, stakeholders.”
  • Challenge 7: “Ensure a sustainable ocean observing system across all ocean basins that delivers accessible, timely, and actionable data and information to all users.”

The activities of this DCO will promote sustained digital interoperability between the data, information, and digital knowledge generated by initiatives across the Decade. It will bring together digital stakeholders – across regions, organizational scales, and capacity levels – to negotiate and establish clear agreements (from high- to low-level) on their co-development of the Decade’s digital ecosystem.

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing will continue coordinating activities towards cooperation between both UN and non-UN organizations which were started by IODE in 2020 (two workshops were held to bring together UN organizations and non-UN organizations to share information on their data activities and data holdings, and to invite them to collaborate under the Decade).

The DCO’s activities will support a transparent, structured, intelligent, interoperable, and functional co-development of the Decade’s initial interoperability strategy described in the Implementation Plan:

“No single or central digital infrastructure or system will be sufficient to meet the needs of the Decade. Implementation of the digital ecosystem will require inclusive and outward-facing co- design and co-construction of a distributed, integrated and interoperable set of digital solutions that will form components of the overall ecosystem. Collectively these components will represent the socio-ecological dimensions of the ocean, including the numerous pathways to support sustainable development. Implementation will include concrete efforts to bridge efforts across global, regional and local scales.” [para 48 of the Decade Implementation Plan Version 2.0]

“The Decade digital ecosystem will catalyse cooperation between data generators and users from diverse stakeholder groups including governments, UN entities, scientists, planners, decision-makers, as well as industry and the public. The digital ecosystem and its component parts will support users in accessing, understanding, assessing, and providing impactful feedback on raw and processed data, information and knowledge so that these better meet their specific needs.” [para 51 of the Decade Implementation Plan Version 2.0]

Building on this implementation vision and in line with the early considerations of the Ocean Decade Data Coordination Group, the DCO’s activities will ensure that well-defined, transparent and functional digital value chains are maintained and inclusively interlink the Decade’s stakeholders in a robust digital commons. These multifaceted value chains will be complex, and the DCO will leverage data-driven interoperability diagnostics to assess and strengthen links between the observations and operations communities, modelling communities, digital twin initiatives, and other key stakeholders such as local communities and indigenous data stewards. Early on, this coordination will leverage existing collaborations between IODE and initiatives such as OA, HAB, GOSR, StoR, and GOOS to pilot and tune the approach.

In addition, the DCO will, through its OceanTeacher Global Academy (OTGA), Ocean InfoHub (OIH) and other related IODE projects (which have also been submitted as Decade Actions) work towards equitable participation of all IOC Member States (and related regional organizations) in the Decade data activities, thereby also furthering the mission described in the Capacity Development chapter of the Decade Implementation Plan. These activities will anchor broader networks of data, information, and capacity sharing, while maintaining an overall strategic direction continually shaped by partner feedback.

Terms of Reference2024-03-04T06:18:14+01:00

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing shall carry out the following actions in support of the Decade:

Coordination of Actions and Stakeholder Facilitation and Engagement

  1. Organization of (online) meetings for stakeholder communities (grouped or joint and in close cooperation with the Data Coordination Group) to discuss the targets of the data chapter of the Decade IP, required infrastructure and methodologies, possible contributions from stakeholder communities, benefits to stakeholder communities,
  2. Engage and coordinate with the Data Coordination Group and the Technical Implementation Coordination Group that will be implemented within the Data Coordination Platform set up by the DCU,
  3. Organization of (online) meetings with leaders of related, relevant Decade DCCs, DIPs (Decade Implementing Partners), and DCOs, Programmes and Projects to ensure coherent actions and complementarity and facilitate this through the community of practice on the global stakeholder forum,
  4. Establishment of technical or strategic sub-groups to co-design required actions in response to Calls for Decade Actions with attention to end user engagement and end user needs,
  5. Facilitate Decade Actions (eg through the IODE/GOOS OBPS) in support of best practices for data management, scientific coordination and planning, tools and resources for developing capacity on research data management and sharing, and resources for data publishing, sharing and interoperability,
  6. Promote cooperation with relevant IOC Programmes, related Projects, other relevant UN entities and stakeholder groups in order to advance the implementation of the Decade,
  7. Support capacity development under the remit of the DCO which can be provided through existing activities such as OceanTeacher Global Academy and related activities,
  8. Maintain an updated list of relevant Decade Programmes, Projects, and Activities, as well as Decade Contributions, when they are relevant for the DCO’s scope of work, including information on relevant contacts, status, partners, and its expected activities and outcomes.
  9. Proactively facilitate the structuring and engagement of a Communities of Practice around ocean data sharing via the Global Stakeholder Forum to facilitate dialogue and exchange between other Decade stakeholders.

Supporting Decade Calls for Action

  1. Based upon requirements identified during stakeholder meetings, draft calls for action to contribute to the expected outcomes (facilitate discussions in CoPs on gaps and needs in the digital ecosystem to inform the scoping of future calls for decade actions in close cooperation with the DCG),
  2. Discuss and coordinate draft calls with DCU (as well as with DCCs and ongoing programmes, projects to ensure complementarity). CFDAs will be launched by DCU – role of DCO is to provide input to scoping and provide input to review process for programmes to inform endorsement decisions,
  3. The IODE Project Office, IODE Committee and active IODE projects regularly publish and review calls for proposals for consultants and sub-contractors, so mechanisms are in place.

Monitoring & Reporting

  1. Organize regular reporting by all DCCs, DIPs, programmes and projects within the scope of work of the DCO and in line with the requirements of the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework of the Ocean Decade,
  2. Provide advice and data to the DCU on monitoring and evaluation data from the Decade Programs, Projects and Activities under its scope of work,
  3. Deliver an annual workplan to the DCU and the IODE Management Group on the first semester of each year, setting out the DCO’s priorities, tasks, goals, and timing for the year, to make sure there is alignment with the Ocean Decade goals, the other DCOs/DCCs, and other relevant Decade stakeholders,
  4. Present an annual financial and activity report for the previous calendar year , to be presented during the first trimester of the following year.
  5. Contribute to Decade annual reporting, including the preparation of programmatic / geographic summaries of Decade Actions under their scope of work, case studies or more in depth thematic or geographic analyses.

The diagram below illustrates the lines of reporting between the Decade Actions, the DCO for Ocean Data Sharing, the DCU and the IODE Project Office.


  1. Raise awareness and visibility of the Decade amongst diverse stakeholder groups and coordinate targeted communications activities in line with branding and messaging guidelines provided by the Decade Coordination Unit,
  2. Organize regular communication of all activities undertaken by DCCs, programmes and projects under the scope of work of the DCO, through appropriate communication and public awareness channels,
  3. Ensure communication channels between the DCO for Ocean Data Sharing, other DCOs and the DCU to ensure overall coordination of communication on data and information across all IP chapters.

Mobilization of Resources

  1. In close coordination with the DCU, DCCs, programmes and projects under the scope of the DCO, and supported by relevant communication efforts, undertake resource mobilization efforts to fund endorsed Decade projects and programmes through financial or in-kind contributions by member states, other organizations, private sector and foundations,
  2. Coordinate Resource Needs Assessments of endorsed programmes and projects under the responsibility of the DCO in line with guidance provided by the DCU,
  3. Seek partnerships, voluntary commitments, sponsorship and funding to strengthen the implementation and impact of a world-class digital data eco-system.

Other Agreed Functions & Responsibilities

  1. Align strategy development and implementation with:
    1. The other DCOs, DIPs and DCCs that are established within the Decade that focus on the observation, management, analysis and /or delivery of data and information.
    2. The Data Coordination Group and the Technical Implementation Coordination Group that will be formed under the Terms of Reference of the Data Coordination Platform, and with the Data & Knowledge Management Officer of the DCU.
  1. Encourage adherence to best practices (including existing data policies and terms of use) and FAIR data principles within the Decade Actions.
Latest Developments2024-03-23T15:31:37+01:00

Since its launch in June 2023, the Ocean Data Sharing DCO has been focusing on implementing its core mandate which is to:

Forthcoming activities and events will focus on mobilizing the Ocean Decade data and information sharing community to identify Actions needs and challenges, in this context, provide support and highlight the wealth of resources that already exist.

Launch of Ocean Data Sharing Community of Practice

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing has launched its Community of Practice on December 14th at 13.00CET.

This Ocean Data Sharing Community of Practice will be a space to discuss and exchange questions, knowledge, and resources on all things ocean data related.

Initially limited to endorsed Decade Actions, this interactive space will connect the data and information-sharing community to foster dialogue and build capacity in data sharing and management in the Decade.

Hosted by and working in close collaboration with IODE, the Ocean Data Sharing DCO has been established to support the Decade Actions with their data and information management needs, contributing to the implementation of the Decade’s Data and Information Strategy and ensuring a successful outcome for Ocean Decade Challenge 8 “Creating a Digital Representation of the Ocean“.

Are you linked to an endorsed Decade Action and interested in connecting to the ocean data sharing community? Then join our Community of Practice

If you are not – or not yet – an endorsed Decade Action, then feel free to register your interest in the work of this DCO by sending us an email at oceandatasharing@unesco.org.

Community of Practice ‘Meet & Greet’ Agenda – See the agenda and how to connect here: https://forum.oceandecade.org/networks/events/130480


Meet our Decade Programmes

The following four Decade Actions are attached to the DCO for Ocean Data Sharing. Further information can be found at the links below and on their respective website. Each provides an example of best practice in ocean data sharing and management and are excellent resources for the Decade community.

Ocean Data 2030: Led by IODE, Ocean Data 2030 will develop an open-source data and information system that will link existing ocean information systems around the world, and enable more efficient discovery of data, information and knowledge products.

GEOTRACES: Led by the U.S. National Science Foundation (on behalf of the international partners), GEOTRACES is an international program designed to coordinate efforts and data regarding marine biogeochemical cycles of trace elements and their isotopes (TEIs).

World Ocean Database Programme (WODP): Led by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), builds on IODE’s Ocean Data and Information System (ODIS) and will enable National Oceanographic Data Centers worldwide and other digital repositories to (i) upload their oceanographic data into WOD and (ii) retrieve data in a uniform interoperable format; a value-added proposition. The vision is to achieve openly discoverable, accessible, and adaptable digital profile oceanographic data of known quality.

Digital innovation hand-in-hand with fisheries & ecosystem monitoring: Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department (FI) Division, the Fisheries and Environmental Atlas will use Open Data and Open Science to support fisheries and ecosystems scientific monitoring. It will include topical environmental maps and data for FAIR analysis.


Vision 2030 Working Group 8

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing has been providing support to the Vision 2030 Challenge 8 Working Group to deliver a White Paper outlining the strategic vision for what success would look like for this challenge by 2030. The White Paper will be presented, together the White Papers for the other nice challenges at the Decade Conference in Barcelona in April 2023.

Find out more about this Working Group, read the article on the Vision 2030 webpage: ‘Spotlight on Working Group 8’!

The guiding framework towards setting a strategic ambition for Challenge 8 as developed by Working Group 8.

Members of the Vision 2030 Challenge 8 Working Group

Find out more about the Vision 2030 process here.


The IODE programme’s governing body is the IODE Committee, composed of heads of NODCs, ADUs and AIUs. IOC Member States, in addition, provide in-kind support to the IODE programme through their national data and information centres, which are members of the IODE Committee.

The IOC Project Office for IODE was formally approved for establishment by the IOC Assembly at its 22nd Session (2003) through Resolution XXII-7 and officially inaugurated on 25 April 2005. It is the decentralized secretariat of the IODE Programme. Based in Oostende, Belgium, it coordinates all project activities of the IODE Programme, as well as the IOC capacity development strategy.

The DCO for Ocean Data Sharing will be hosted by the IODE Project Office to ensure a non- duplicative coordination role and to benefit from available in-kind resources (e.g. office space, etc.). The DCO will report to the IODE Project Office on regular operations and will report to the DCU and IODE Management Group on major decisions regarding funding, scope and direction, and to report on progress, similar to other IODE components.

The DCO’s team includes a full-time Manager who will manage the office and provide high-level support for its activities; a Technical Implementation Lead; and an Administrative Assistant. The DCO Manager will act as the focal point, responsible for maintaining communications with other Decade organizations, such as the DCU and other DCOs/DCCs. The organizational chart below provides an overview of the lines of authority and communication of the DCO team:

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